Spaghetti with Tuna and Olives Recipe

Espaguetis con Atún y Aceitunas

We were once in Conil de la Frontera on the coast of Cádiz province in late May which happened to coincide with a tuna fishing festival known as La Ruta del Atún. This festival celebrates an ancient form of tuna fishing which dates back more than 3000 years when it was introduced by the Phoenicians.

This method of fishing involves the use of an elaborate series of nets called an ‘Almadraba’ which catches bluefin tuna as they travel from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean. The Romans later adopted this same fishing practice and its use is authorised in Conil and the nearby towns of Barbate, Zahara de los Atunes and Tarifa during these annual festivities.

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This time of year is a real treat for fish lovers as the tuna is sold to local bars and restaurants who serve the freshest tuna dishes you’ll ever taste in your life. Whilst the simplest dish is a tuna steak lightly fried in olive oil with garlic, there are many creative ways to cook this fish which inspired this recipe. This dish is delicious with fresh tuna but in our home it has become part of our staple diet by simply using tinned tuna combined with olives which are stuffed with anchovies or red peppers.


Serves 4 main meals

  • approximately 100g of canned tuna per person or 100-150g of fresh tuna per person
  • 1 x 200-300g tin of olives cut in half
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions thinly sliced or chopped
  • 4 or 5 cloves of garlic crushed
  • about 400-500g of spaghetti
  • half a chicken or vegetable stock cube
  • 3 or 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 150ml of white wine
  • freshly ground black pepper
Spaghetti With Tuna and Olives Recipe

Cooking Method

On a gentle heat fry the onion in the oil until it is transparent which should take about 10 to 15 minutes depending on how thinly you have sliced the onion. Add the garlic and tuna and fry for 5 more minutes.

Add the white wine and the olives and bring to the boil allowing the alcohol to boil off.

Add about 300ml of boiling water, dissolve the stock cube and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes while you cook the spaghetti. Season with freshly ground black pepper and salt if you think it is necessary.

In a large pan of boiling water boil the spaghetti for approximately 10 minutes. Check the packet for details.

Mix the cooked spaghetti with the tuna and olive mix and serve with crusty or garlic bread and a glass of Barbadillo white wine.

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